Links Index


Introduction to Graphic Organizers, Concept Mapping And Inspiration


1.  What is a graphic organizer (GO) and concept map (CM)?

2.  How can GO and CM be used in the classroom (examples and ideas).

3.  Examples of GO and CM (where to find lesson plans and examples).

4a. Creating GO/CM using Inspiration software.

4b. Creating graphic organizers using Microsoft Word XP

4c. Online GO generator

5.  Instructional Prep Time - find or prepare a graphic organizer to be used in an upcoming lesson.

6.  Sharing time - what did you find/create? 

Introduction to Graphic Organizers and Concept Mapping

What is a graphic/visual organizer?

  1. - basic intro
  3. - good intro and examples
  4. - what is a Mind Map
  5. - details five main types
  6. - includes specialized concept maps
  7. - graphic organizers web links
  8. - MindMapper's web links for graphic organizers
  9. - S.C.O.R.E 's graphic organizer activity bank
  10. - three types of graphic organizers
  11. - uses same concept with different types to illustrate differences/similarities
  12. and and - a few non-tech examples

What is concept mapping?

  1. - Introduction to Concept Maps
  2. - Basic types of concept maps
  3. - lists types of software

Why Use graphic Organizers? - Why use graphic organizers in student projects? Shouldn't students be writing paragraphs and reports? There are a number of answers to these questions.

  1. The graphic organizer speeds up communication. Graphic organizers help people organize and remember information.
  2. Help students and teachers develop organizational skills.
  3. They explain complex relationships among elements and help make connections between and among concepts
  4. Graphic organizers can clarify concepts that cannot be communicated through words.
  5. Supports the process of activating background knowledge for unfamiliar material
  6. Organizers are a way to encourage students to think about information in new ways. With writing, it's easy for students to copy from one place to another. With graphic organizers, you remove the words and focus on the connections. T
  7. They can be a great tool for activities that ask students to review concepts and demonstrate their understanding. They can easily make changes and take different perspectives.
  8. A huge amount of information can be shared on a single picture to provide the "big view" of a topic.
  9. It is easy to edit, revise, and quickly add to a visual map.
  10. They are not very messy and easy to convert to outline form.
  11. They are great for visual thinkers or those that need to practice their visual thinking.
  12. Task definition -

What is Inspiration?

  1. - Inspiration's web site
  2.  - inspiration examples
  3. - quick tutorials
  4. - tutorial
  5. - nice tutorial
  6. - tutorial with lots of multimedia
  7. - nice tutorials
  8. - Inspiration linked to New Jersey Standards

Classroom Examples/Teaching with Graphic Organizers

  2. - details five main types
  3. - many links
  4. - premade organizers for the classroom
  5. - nice examples
  6. - more classroom examples
  7. science examples
  8. - many types, especially Language Arts
  9. - a few examples from a school
  10. - how to organize a research paper using a graphic organizer
  11. - multiple examples
  12. - intro material and examples
  13. - a few examples listed by grade level
  14. - list of examples
  15. - how ot make and use GO

Starting Inspiration

1.      We will make a simple web all about you.  Start Inspiration (at the ETTC this is done by left double clicking on the shortcut found on the desktop).

2.      Inspiration automatically starts the first symbol.  Take a look and review the screen elements and diagram toolbar buttons page provided at the end of this packet.

3.      Click in the main idea box.  You may need to drag over the words Main Idea and press the delete key.  Now type a title (all about me, your name, whatever).

Creating Symbols

Rapid Fire Command

1.      We will use the Rapid Fire Button to generate some categories for you to fill in.  Make sure the title box you just typed in is selected (boxes and diamonds appear around the edges of the box).

2.      Click on the Rapid Fire button.  Now type foods and press the enter key.  Type music and press the enter key.  Enter in three or four more categories.  MAKE SURE YOU HAVE MORE THAN FOUR CATEGORIES.  Click on the Rapid Fire Button when done.

3.      Notice how Inspiration puts a category at each corner of the main idea box.  After four, it starts to overlap.  You can move boxes around.  Point to the middle of one of the overlapping boxes (one of the last categories you entered).  Drag the box to the side.  The link arrow will automatically move.

4.      Point to the lower right box on the symbol and drag to change the size of the symbol.

5.      Select one of the boxes.  Press the delete key.  The box is erased.  From the Edit menu choose UndoYOU CAN NOT UNDO EVERY ACTION AND YOU CAN ONLY UNDO ONE ACTION (not multiple actions).

6.      Symbols will snap to a grid when the Grid Snap option is turned on.  To turn Grid Snap or Grid Lines off or on, Click on Utility option on menu bar. Choose Grid Snap or Grid Line to turn them on or off.  You can also turn Grid Lines on to guide manual symbol placement. 

Other Ways To Create Symbols

1.      Now we will add specific items to each subject.  Click on the Foods symbol.  Now find the Create buttons on the toolbar.

2.      You can click on any of the arrows on the Create button.  It will create a symbol with a link in the direction the arrow is pointing.

3.      Add a few symbols with foods you like.  You can change the size of the symbol or arrange the position of the symbol if you need to.

4.      Add a couple of items to other categories using the Create buttons.

5.      You can also click anywhere on the grid and start to type.  Click near your music symbol.  Start typing a group/individual/music type you like.  This adds a symbol with no link.  Add a few symbols without links (we will link them next).

Working With Links

1.      You can add a link between two symbols.  Click on the Link button.  Click on the music symbol you just created with no link box.  Now click on the main music category symbol you are linking to.  An arrow (link) should appear.

2.      Another way to create links is by drawing them.  Select the symbol where you want the link to originate.  Four diamond shapes will appear on the sides of the symbol.  Position pointer over any of the diamonds on the symbol from which you want the link to originate.  Hold down mouse button and drag to the symbol you are linking to and release the mouse button.

3.      You can delete a link by clicking on the link to select it and then pressing the delete key on the keyboard.  We will work more with links in part 2.

Saving Your Work

1.      You can save your file as an Inspiration file (Inspiration has its own file extension) or export it to a different type.  Both options are found in the File Menu.

2.      Click on the File Menu and choose Save.

3.      Save your work to the desktop.  Use your first and last name as the file name.

Changing the Symbols

1.      You can use different symbols for your boxes.  You can print out a copy of all symbols here -

2.      Click on one of the food boxes you created.  Look at the symbol toolbar.  Click on the black triangle that points down.  A list of libraries appears, choose a food library.  Click on a food symbol.  Because the food box was selected, it changed.

3.      You can also drag a symbol from the toolbar to the grid to create a new box.  Try adding an item to one of your categories this way.

4.      You can format the text and symbols.  Select the boxes to be changed.  Use the Font Menu options.

5.      Each color of a symbol can be changed.  Select a symbol and then click on the Multi-Color Symbol tool. (the paintbrush).  A list of all colors appears, select a color and a palette pops up.  Choose a new color.

6.      You can select multiple symbols by dragging over multiple symbols.  Also try holding down the shift key while clicking on multiple symbols.

Formatting and Moving Symbols

1.      Many options are found in the Format Menu (you can also right click on a box and choose Font).  Change some of the boxes.

2.      The symbols can be changed using the Draw toolbar or the Effects Menu.  Try changing the size of the lines surrounding the symbols, the fill colors (changes just selected symbols) or the background (changes entire background).

View Options

1.      You can use the Position button to move the diagram around.  This is helpful for large diagrams.

2.      Use the Zoom button (lower left corner) to change the size of the screen.  You can find the same commands in the View Menu.

3.      The Outline button changes the view to outline mode.  Click on the Diagram button to go back to the diagram view (more on outlines in part 2)

Spell Check and Printing

1.      You can check the spelling using Spell Check from the Utility Menu.\

2.      Now choose Print Options from the File Menu and select options (such as fit on one page).


1.      Type in Types of Weather as the main idea.

2.      Click on the Rapid Fire button and type in the types of weather.

3.      Click on the Rapid Fire button again to turn it off.

4.      Click on the Arrange button.

5.      Choose the Web Selection and click OK.

6.      Go through the different libraries and change the symbols.  Remember to click on the box first and then choose the symbol from the library. 

7.      Some of the symbols are animated.  Go to the Basic Library.  Point to the light bulb for a minute.  It should change.  To turn off the animation feature, click on the File Menu and choose Application PropertiesUncheck the Animate GIFs box.

8.      Make a few of the symbols larger or smaller (click once on the symbol to select it then point to a corner box and drag.).  Remember you can move the symbols by pointing to the middle of the symbol and dragging.

9.      Change the color of the text for a few of the symbols (Select the text and click on the Text color button on the draw toolbar or select Text Color from the Effect Menu).

10.  Select the Fog symbol.  Change the line and fill color (use the buttons on the draw toolbar or use the commands found in the Effect Menu.  Change the fill color for the main idea box.

11.  Select the Tornado symbol.  Click on the Multicolor button (draw toolbar) to change the colors of the Tornado symbol (this can not be done in Inspiration 5).

12.  Change the colors on another symbol.

13.  Use the Create buttons to add another weather type.  Format the type you just added.

14.  Click on the Text Box button on the draw toolbar.

15.  Drag above the main web to create a box.  Click inside the box and type in your title.

16.  Change the font type and font size (these commands are found in the Format Menu).

17.  Save your web and close the document.

Outline View

1.      We will now set up a book report web.  Start a new documentChoose a symbol from the library and click on it.  Click on the New Look button

2.      Pick your favorite book.  Type in the title and author name in the first box (I refer to this box as Story Title box later on).

3.      Click on the Outline button.

4.      Add the following categories: characters, plot, location.  Click on the Add Topic button to add new categories.

5.      Click on the characters category so it is selected.  Click on the Add Sub button and type in a character from the book.  Click the Add Sub button and add another character.

6.      Fill in a couple of subtopics for each of the other categories. 

7.      Topics can be moved by dragging them to a new location (if you drag a topic under another topic, it becomes a subtopic.

8.      You can make a topic a subtopic by selecting it and clicking on the Move Right button on the Outline toolbar.  The Move Left button will make a subtopic a topic.

9.      You can check the spelling of your outline by clicking on the Spell button on the Outline toolbar.  Follow the directions in the dialogue box to continue.

10.  When finished go to the Diagram view.

11.  Fill in the boxes as shown in the example.  Be sure to format the symbols and text.  Do not worry about the writing that appears on the arrows (we will add that in a minute).

12.  To add text to an arrowclick once in the middle of the arrow, a dotted box should appear.  Type in your text.  You can format the text if you want.

13.  You can also move arrows.  Point to the arrow connecting the Story Title symbol and the main characters symbol.  Click once.  A green dot and red boxes should appear. 

14.  Point to the green dot and drag.  The position of the text along the arrow should change.

15.  Make sure the main characters symbol is still selected.  Point to the red box at the end of the arrow (the end connected to the Story Title box).  Hold down the mouse button.  Gray boxes should appear around the Story Title box.  Drag the arrow to any of the boxes.  Try dragging the red box on the other end of the arrow.

AutoArrange, Views and Notes

16.  Click on the Arrange button and select a tree diagram style.

17.  You can add notes to boxes.  Select the Story Title box.  Click on the Add Notes buttonType in a note and close the Notes box.  The box in the upper left corner should now be filled.

18.  To view notes, click on the View Menu and select Notes List.  Change the View back to diagram. 

19.  Open the View Menu and choose Focus In.  Choose Focus Out from the View Menu to go back to the whole diagram.

20.  Select all of the symbols.  Open the Symbol Menu and choose Evenly Space.  Try horizontal or vertical.

21.  You can change the type of link arrow connecting boxes.  Select one of your arrows.

22.  Open the Link MenuTry some of the different options.

Importing Graphics and Special Symbols

1.      Save the Inspiration web.  Minimize Inspiration and open the Internet.  Go to Find a graphic you like and save it to the desktop.

2.      Open the Edit Menu and choose Insert GraphicNavigate to the graphic you saved on the desktopDouble click on the file to insert it.

3.      You can use the custom strip symbol to create a special symbol.

4.      Insert the custom strip symbol (white rectangular box with black strip on left).

5.      Click the strip on the left.  You can now edit the stripClick in the box on the right to add text there.

6.      To add a graphic, copy the graphic from the original source (use the graphic you just pasted into Inspiration).  Click in the right side of the strip symbol and paste.

7.      You can add symbols to libraries. See handout

Saving Inspiration Documents in Other Forms (HTML and Text)

1.      You can add hyperlinks to your web.  Add a symbol box to your webType in the following address  The address should be automatically underlined and colored blue.

2.      Select any text.  Open the Utility Menu and choose Internet.  Click on URL Hyperlink.  Type in a web address (such as To remove the link, select the text that has the hyperlink.  Open the Utility Menu and choose Internet.  Select URL Hyperlink and click Remove Hyperlink.

3.      You can save your document as an HTML file.  This is the format needed to publish the Inspiration document to the Internet. 

4.      Open the File Menu and choose ExportClick on the file format type you want and click on OK.

5.      We can also export our work in Outline View as a text file. To do so, let's go to Outline View and choose Export from the File menu.

6.      Select the format to save the outline.  Select Outline Formats on the left, different Format Options appear on the right. If we export our outline as Plain Text, we can choose whether or not we want to export our prefixes.

7.      One export option you'll want to explore is Microsoft PowerPoint RTF.

8.      When you export your outline for use in PowerPoint, your main idea becomes the presentation title and each first level topic - Spanish Club, Marching Band, etc - becomes a separate slide. Second level and lower topics become slide content. Your students can use Inspiration to plan and prepare their presentations and then export their work to PowerPoint where they'll then simply format their slides. (Return to the outline.)

Using Templates and More Ideas

1. - list of templates

2. - adding your own templates



5. - World Language examples

6. - 4th and 5th grade ideas


8. - a brief outline and some examples

9. - Sample Lesson Plans

10. - PreK - 1st grade ideas

11. - Example of using Inspiration in lesson

12. - some examples


thanks to for the graphics